By Lissette Mendoza-Tapia
Despite what head chef and owner Martin Luzanilla called an “emotional roller coaster,” he was finally able to open a storefront location of his growing business, Mexihanas Hibachi Grill on Friday, December 4.
The family-run business includes the involvement of Luzanilla, his brother Manuel and other close family and friends who have been a part of the business since its inception in July of this year.
“It just took off,” Luzanilla said. “I would just post food we would cook at home for the kids and people were just like, ‘hey, let us try that’ and here we are,” he said.
With $2,500 and investing in a taco cart, they began serving up their food from their own driveway.
“I went from nothing to where we’re at today, the first day as an official business and it feels great,” Luzanilla said.
As he reflected on his journey, Luzanilla choked up for a moment, “It’s an emotional roller coaster, tears of joy, for sure.”
The Luzanillas grew up in the 6th District, the same area where their storefront is located at 1782 Martin Luther King Avenue, right off of Pacific Coast Highway, in the same historic block where the original V.I.P. Records store was located.
Now Martin is the first one in his family to open up a business, an accomplishment for him as this will begin a path of generational wealth to provide for him, his family and his community.
The success of Mexihanas has also permitted the Luzanilla’s to give back to the community. Just the month prior they teamed up with the Hood Santa to distribute turkeys and canned goods to those in need.
“To help the community, to help out people that need help, you know what I mean, provide the stuff that I didn’t have, hopefully this can build to bigger and better things and get something going right, not just for my community, for Long Beach and LA in general,” Luzanilla said.
Prior to securing their new location, Mexihanas was serving up their signature plates during weekend pop-ups only out of Jerry’s Place on 4th Street where they would continuously sell out.
This Friday during their grand opening was no exception as Mexihanas sold out within hours.
“I’m stoked, I’m blown away, I’m overexcited,” Luzanilla said.
Their menu consists of different combos of their signature fine meats including rib-eye, new york and tuna steak, lobster, chicken or shrimp on top of either fried rice, chicken fried rice, vegetables, garlic noodles, or edamame all cooked hibachi-stye.
“I’m coming at it with a different style, it’s an LBC style,” Luzanilla said.
The inspiration for the hibachi-style, meaning the food is cooked on a high-heat, metal cooking plate came from Luzanilla’s own passion for it and realizing that there wasn’t anything like it in his community. He was also inspired by his cousins who used to own a Chinese-Mexican fusion restaurant in Pomona.
“When I looked around and saw what was in my city, this wasn’t here, and all you had was high end restaurants that did that,” Luzanilla said. “I wanted to bring something that was the same quality food, at a to-go place.”
“Especially right now, during this pandemic, we have to do that, with the closures and the shutdowns we have to focus on what we can do at the door at the moment and not seating people,” he said.
Prior to owning Mexihanas, Martin had worked as a construction worker, one of his last jobs having been knocking down the old Long Beach Courthouse, and working as a AAA tow truck driver for 12 years.
At the end of the interview Luzanilla left off with a quote that his grandfather Francisco Bejarano, who has since passed, told him, “Capitalize on what you want to do, don’t do it halfway, don’t ever do something three quarters of the way or a quarter of the way. Just do something, do it right, and you’ll get everything you want.”
While their set hours of operation are still pending, they will be open this evening starting at 5:00 p.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis. For the latest updates follow them on their Instagram, @Mexihanashibachigrill.